CRF Blog

What’s a Monkey to Do in Tampa?

by Bill Hayes

The Republican Convention and bad weather are not the only things going on in Tampa. For more than three years, a wild macaque has been living in the community. New York Times Magazine tells the story in What’s a Monkey to Do in Tampa?

It was the third week of January 2009. Now, more than three and a half years later, the macaque is still on the loose. After outmaneuvering the cops in Clearwater, the animal eventually showed up on the opposite side of Old Tampa Bay, somehow crossing the West Courtney Campbell Causeway, a low-lying bridge nearly 10 miles long. (The F.W.C. posits that it hid in the back of a covered truck.) That fall, it materialized in a low-income neighborhood in East Tampa, crouching in a tree. Guessing it was a raccoon, an F.W.C. lieutenant scaled a ladder and barked at it. The monkey urinated on him and disappeared.

By the following spring, a long string of sightings showed the macaque doubling back around the bay, overland, then boogieing down the Gulf Coast and into St. Petersburg, where it scrambled over the roof of a Baptist church during evening service. (“He came to worship,” one witness told The Tampa Bay Times.) A woman watched it swing off a tree limb and flop into her swimming pool. On Coquina Key, one neighbor told me, homeowners would climb ladders to prune their trees before hurricane season and find spent citrus peels littering their roofs. [more]